The cancellation of a student-run drag show by the president of West Texas A&M University, Walter Wendler, has sparked controversy and protests on campus. The event was intended to raise funds for The Trevor Project, an LGBTQ youth crisis intervention and suicide prevention organization. Wendler argued that drag shows stereotype women in cartoon-like extremes and are offensive to women, comparing them to blackface performances. He wrote in an email to students, faculty, and staff that “drag shows are derisive, divisive, and demoralizing misogyny, no matter the stated intent.”
The cancellation of the drag show has prompted dozens of students to protest on the university’s campus, with some holding rainbow-colored posters that read “Don’t drag us down” and “Women who love drag.” In response to the cancellation, a student-led Change.org petition has been launched, calling for Wendler to reinstate the event. As of Wednesday morning, the petition had garnered over 6,500 signatures.
The controversy surrounding the cancellation of the drag show has highlighted the ongoing political debate around drag performances. Legislators in at least 16 states, including Texas, have proposed measures this year that would restrict drag performances, with the majority of bills aimed at limiting such performances in front of minors. Supporters argue that these measures are necessary to protect children from obscene entertainment, while critics say they unfairly target the LGBTQ community.
Drag is an art form with deep roots in the LGBTQ community, and the cancellation of the student-run drag show has been seen by many as a direct attack on the community. LGBTQ students at West Texas A&M University have voiced their disappointment with the decision, with one student stating that it contradicts the university’s supposed support for the LGBTQ community. The controversy is likely to continue, as students and advocates continue to call for the reinstatement of the drag show and push back against what they see as discriminatory measures aimed at their community.